South Asia economic conclave begins in New Delhi
NEW DELHI (Pajhwok): The first session of the three-day South Asia Economic Conclave (SAEC) began in New Delhi on Monday involving representatives from SAARC countries to push for regional integration, cooperation and trade and exploiting the huge potential the region has.
Titled “South Asian Economic Conclave; Achieving Inclusive Growth Through Deeper Economic Integration” the conference is an effort by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in partnership with the World Bank Group (WBG) aiming to create a high-level private sector-led forum for South Asia and to work out a roadmap of inclusive growth through economic integration.
Abdul Qadir Bahman, Deputy Chief Executive of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) and one of the participants, told Pajhwok Afghan News the conference was very important for regional trade especially the trade between Afghanistan and the rest of the region.
“Our aim to attend the conference is to see how we can exploit the opportunities for the private sector of Afghanistan and let them familiarise themselves with their counterparts in the region.”
According to Bahman, the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in Afghanistan was in the initial stages and Afghanistan could learn much from other south Asian countries in this regard.
An agreement on a joint chamber of commerce between India and Afghanistan had been reached.
He said the joint trader body would study the challenges the Afghan and Indian traders faced in trade between them and evolve a mechanism on how to resolve them and facilitate them with better opportunities.
He added problems concerning security, infrastructure and transit were some of the challenges creating hurdles to foreign investment in Afghanistan.
Annette Dixon, the World Bank vice president for South Asia, speaking at the conference, said South Asia was one of the least integrated regions of the world, despite huge potential that the countries of the region possessed to deepen their economic cooperation.
She said other regions of the world like the EU facing similar challenges South Asia faced today had been able to integrate. “There is more trade between South Asia and the rest of the region than between the countries of the region themselves,” she said, adding that it was a missed opportunity given the size of the market in South Asia.
The Asia and ASEAN region contribute nearly 53 percent to the world trade, while South Asia despite huge potentials contributes approximately five percent only.
She cited the World Bank funded CASA-1000 as an example how energy needs of the region could be met.
CASA-1000 is the transfer of 1,300 megawatts of hydropower electricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Pakistan. There was no reason for other such projects like TAPI not to succeed, she added.
The objective of the conclave being attended by government officials, business leaders, policy makers, civil society and media leaders of the region – is cited to stimulate informed dialogue between the private sector and government to promote regional trade and investment, which would in turn help catalyze higher growth and new job opportunities for all countries in South Asia.
Humayun Rasa, Afghan Minister of Commerce and Industries, is representing Afghanistan in the conclave and is expected to speak on the second day of the forum.
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